We moved yet again. We’re still here in the greater Portland area but a little more south. Along with the general pain of moving is getting all your services transfered to the new house. For Internet, I was able to negotiate a killer deal with Frontier who runs FIOS fiber in this neighborhood. The house was not connected with fiber, so Frontier installed a new line to the house and hooked us up. So far, so good. Unfortunately Frontier decided to price itself right out of the TV market, so we tried for DirectTV. Fortunately and unfortunately, we are surrounded by lots of tall trees and there was no good line to the sky where DirectTV need to see. We could have tried Dish Network as their satellites are in a different part of the sky, but I have a long running beef with Dish Network and I wasn’t willing to give them my business again. So, reluctantly, we went back to Comcast. Reluctantly because Comcast was ridiculously expensive. No satellite available at the old house either. Damn Portland and all it’s trees 😉
After once missed appointment which I will admit was my fault a Comcast guy came out and we realized there was no cable from the street to the house. These owners we bought from were decidedly low tech indeed. So, the friendly Comcast installer arranged for a line to be installed underground. Same drill as Frontier. Here’s where it starts to get weird. He drove off without checking back with me. Never came back to say everything was setup for the line install. I assumed everything was in order, but I was left a little confused and in doubt. I didn’t even know what day or time to expect the line install.
The next day came and I called to ask about the line install. The person on the phone said it was going to be that day between 6-8pm. “Really?” I asked. That seemed very strange to me as it would be dark by then. “Oh, yes”, I was assured. “We work whenever we need to.” Sure enough nobody came that night and no phone call or communication of any kind about the status. I called the next day, which was today and was told the install would be today and it was an open ended time, so it could be anytime. The lady I talked to said she would put in a notice to have someone call me with a better ETA or at least an update on status. I called back after a few hours and was told it could take up to 4 hours for a call back. Four hours? Really? That seemed odd too. It was getting on to late afternoon and I was getting that sinking feeling so I called yet again. This time the answering system told me I couldn’t be connected to anyone and I should check the website. By early evening, obviously nobody is coming and I’m starting to get really frustrated. I do get through to someone this time and she tells me there’s nobody coming because they have not gotten approval from the city to dig and that could take up to 10 days. Ten……days…..
It took absolutely everything I had not to go ballistic. Calmly, I asked why I was repeatedly told the install would happen, first on Friday, than on Saturday. She finally gave my an answer that kind of made sense but in a very stupid way. Why didn’t the other reps know what she knew looking at the same data? The Comcast installer I had originally talked to mentioned they might drop a temporary line on top of the ground before they dug one underground if needed. So, I asked about that and was told that would not be a viable option as the first available date for that would be four days away and by that time they would be very close to having the dig permit. “Yes”, I said, “But you’ve really messed up here with repeated missinformation and when you screw up a situation, I would think you do something extra for the customer.” No, I was told, that was not going to happen and they would not, as I suggested, get someone to my house first thing Monday morning to run a line above ground.
A few years ago, former Comcast employee Frank Eliason did something remarkable. He created the @ComcastCares Twitter account and started handeling frustrated customer requests online. People were blown away. It was a pioneering act of customer service. Case studies were written and presentations at social media conferences given. Frank single handedly did more for Comcast’s reputation and brand than anything Comcast ever did for itself. But here’s what I have learned from my experience. Comcast doesn’t care, they never cared. Frank Eliason and the small team he built cared. Comcast was and is a shitty company and Frank covered for them remarkably well. Now Frank is gone and even though some of his team remain, the scars are showing. Comcast screwed up my situation, caused me lots of time and grief and ultimately didn’t give a crap about it. They never so much as apologized for it nor made any attempts to make things better. It’s not even like I was a new customer. I had been a customer for nearly two years and was trying to transfer my service.
Now I am going back to Dish Network. That beef I had with them seems like nothing compared with Comcast. Interestingly that beef with Dish also had to do with deference to a long standing customer. I don’t care where they have to stick the dish to get a signal. I may have to put up with some inconvenience when it comes to that, but at this point, I’ll deal with it.
Why is it so hard for companies to treat customers well? They all talk the talk in their board rooms and managers meetings, but where the rubber hits the road, it doesn’t happen. I’m calling bullshit on every company that says they care about the customer, that the customer is everything. 80% of the time, in my experience, it’s not true when it comes to the daily reality. I can count on one hand the number of companies that have truly treated me exceptionally. At the end of the day, the employee works for the company and their job is to protect the company, not advocate for me. And there it is.